Acceptance – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

Tuesday, August 28
Teacher Training Tuesday!

So last night’s power class was great! I felt really good and it was a bit of a slower flow which I enjoyed. Two of the students in our class opened and closed the class with a reading which was very cool. The theme they picked was acceptance and love and Amy did a great job of working it into the main part of the class, as well. Amy shared a poignant story about her son having an aha moment about love and that was really cool too. She also emphasized accepting ourselves – all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly and she also emphasized that we need to breathe for others. We never know who might need us to breathe for them and we should give our all. She asked us to notice if we are giving or just taking. Are we loving or just being loved? It was a very deep class – my favorite kind!! I felt stretched, worked out, calm and relaxed after class and was looking forward to the rest of the night. I had no idea how much that theme would resonate with my class experience later in the evening.

Next, we observed a “sequence” class led by Michelle. This 60 minute class includes the basic sequence for Baptiste yoga. While still considered a power class, it is only heated to 80 degrees and includes a set sequence of poses. This is the same sequence that we are learning and will eventually be teaching at our class for our final project. I took notes all through the class about what poses came in what order and what cues to give.

The last part of the class we did round robin teaching. This is when the wheels fell off for me last night. We were to do the Integration series, Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B the normal way we would do it for a class, but Michelle told us when to start and stop and we went around the room. So basically we would start and stop in the middle of the flow. We could use our note cards so I figured no problem, right? Wrong! When it was my turn we were in the middle of Sun A going into Sun B. I got up and started okay, but I had no idea where I was on my note cards so they were no help. At that point I just thought I would go from memory, but I got lost quickly and just started saying random things! I totally screwed up the sequence and could not wait for Michelle to say her pleasant, “thank you”, so I could sit back down! I came back and practically threw my note cards on the floor when I got back to my mat. “That sucked!” and “What a train wreck!!” I whispered to my fellow yogi next to me. She was trying to reassure me that it wasn’t that bad, but I knew better. Soon the tapes started playing in my head, “Why I am doing this? I shouldn’t be here! I suck at this!” and then the tears started to form. I managed to keep them down until we were done with the exercise, partially because soon my feelings of embarrassment turned into feelings of anger. As I listened to one of my fellow students teach her portion with grace and ease I became angry and directed it towards her because she has been teaching yoga for years! I just kept thinking, “why the hell is she even in this class…she is already a teacher?” Before Michelle could even give me feedback I said, “I know, it was a train wreck!”, but she managed to give me some positive feedback saying I was genuine and my personality showed through. She said that I stayed calm even though I forgot part of the sequence. Wow, she didn’t see my fried insides!!

After that I ended up going to the bathroom to compose myself and blow my nose when I began to think logically about this situation. First, my anger was not about any other student in the class. I was angry at myself because I HAD NOT PRACTICED TEACHING AT HOME AT ALL! Have I mentioned that?!! Yes, I did my note cards, but that is about it. I think I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was and I guess I thought I would just be naturally awesome at this teaching thing. Plus, as my yogi friend pointed out, it was my first time. But, lesson learned…again. I need to accept where I am – the good, the bad and the ugly! And, I need to PRACTICE!!

At the end of class, Michelle reminded us that we should use the following order while teaching: pose, breath and the cues. Our homework for next Tuesday is to read pgs. 108-126 in Journey to Power, do note cards for the warrior series, balancing series and triangle and in one class we take this week we are supposed to try all the modifications when they are offered.

As I was sharing my “ugly” class experience from last night with a friend today, she read something from a daily reader she follows. I was amazed at how it fit for me today so I wanted to share:

How many of my frustrations and disappointments come from expecting too much! It is good to set our standards high, but only if we are prepared to accept, with unperturbed serenity, results that fall short of what we expect. Today’s Reminder: Let me learn to settle for less than I wish were possible, and be willing to accept it and appreciate it. I will not expect too much of anyone, not even of myself. Contentment comes from accepting, gratefully the good that comes to us, and not from raging at life because it is not better. This wholesome attitude is by not means resignation, but a realistic acceptance. The reading ended with this quote from Epictetus, “What you have may seem small; you desire so much more. See children thrusting their hands into a narrow-necked jar, striving to pull out the sweets. If they fill the hand, they cannot pull it out and they they fall to tears. When they let go a few, they can draw out the rest. You, too, let your desire go; covet not too much…”

“I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break”

Sun, August 26
Teacher Training – 3rd Sunday

Today we started with a really cool exercise. Our mats were in a circle around the room. We started with one person and “acted out”, if you will, the Integration, Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B series. So, for example, the first person took child’s pose, the next too downward facing dog, the next ragdoll and so on around the room while we spoke the sequence outloud. It was really helpful in learning the sequence once we got beyond our confusion! I feel more confident already after going through that.

Next we went through all the backbending poses. We looked them up in both the Light on Yoga book at the Yoga Anatomy book to find what page that pose is on and what the benefits of each is for the body. then we went over each one using one of us as a model.

There are seven of them:
1. Locust (Salabhasana) – aids in digestion and relieves gastric troubles

2. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) – brings back elasticity to the spine and abdominal organs

3. Camel Pose (Ustrasana) – helps people with drooping shoulders and hunched backs

4. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) – Gives full expansion to the chestwall and keeps the dorsal part of the spine supple and healthy.

5. Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana) – tones the spine by stretching it fully and keeps the body alert and supple.

6. Cobra (Bhujangasana) – Tones the spinal region and expands the chest fully

7. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) – Rejuvenates the spine; good for people with a stiff back.

We learned what the counter poses are for backbending also: straddle forward bend, seated forward bend, downward facing dog and a gentle twist. Then we had to get in groups of 3 and teach each pose to each other – one person was the student, one the teacher and one was assisting. Next we were given about 30 or so minutes on our own to design out own 15-20 minute sequence leading up to camel pose. We had to write it up, listing the poses, and turn it in. It could be anything! This was pretty tough mostly because I wasn’t sure how long the various poses would take. I would have probably done better if I could have actually done it as I wrote it, but we’ll see!

We had our Restorative Class as always and it was extra long and relaxing. At about two different times I almost fell asleep. She did a bunch of cool breathing techniques at the end. We met with a partner for a bit to plan our dates and classes. My class will be on Sun, October 7 from 6:45pm – 7:30pm at the Yoga Lounge. Mark your calendars!!!

Upcoming Homework
Due Tuesday – Read pg 95 – 108 in Journey to Power. Be ready to teach the Integration series and Sun A and Sun B.
Sunday – no class for Labor Day
Tues, Sept 4 – Do cards for Warrior Series, Balancing and Triangle Series
Sun after Labor Day – Read pg 40 – 42 in the Sutra book

Our project must include at least: Integration series, one Sun A, one Sun B, Warrior Series, Balancing Pose, Backbend pose, Closing pose and Shevasana

Getting a Tune-Up!

Fri, Aug 24
Chakra Tuning

Today’s class began with a chakra tuning restorative class. Chakra means “nerve center” from which comes energy. There are seven of them in the body.

This picture visually depicts all of the chakras and where they are located.

1. Muladhara chakra (pelvic plexus) – located at the base of the spine – color red
2. Svadhisthana chakra (the hypogastric plexus) – located on the spine in the lower abdomen between the navel and the base of the spine – color orange
3. Manipuraka Chakra (the solar plexus) – located at the spine just above the navel – color yellow
4. Anahata Chakra (the cardiac plexus) – located on the spine in the area of the heart – color green
5. Visuddha Chakra (the pharyngeal plexus) – located located on the spine in the throat area – color blue
6. Ajna Chakra (the plexus of commend between the two eyebrows) – located mid-forehead just above the eyes – color indigo
7. Sahasrara Chakra (the thousand petaled lotus, the upper cerebral center) – located on the top of the head, slightly back – color violet

Each chakra is linked to certain energies, feelings or emotions in life. I won’t go into details here, but if you are interested you can read more about it here. Focusing breath to these various physical areas can help with healing and get the various chakras “unblocked”.

So we started with a 75 minutes chakra tuning class which involved the same props as a restorative class, breathing into the various areas while Charri cued us with some meditation. It was very relaxing and I think I feel asleep at one point! Next we moved into the classroom portion of the evening. We practiced our OM’s. We each took a turn starting the OM and then everyone joined in. It was pretty cool. Then we did partner exercises using blocks and straps. We would put the straps around our arms or legs (or both sometimes) and would have to squeeze the block while also trying to open the straps equally. This was hard to do! It is supposed to demonstrate the contracting in and expanding action that happens in yoga – while using the breath to sustain the practice. Very cool. We then did some poses with our partner where they supported us and that felt really good. I was surprised at how good it felt to be supported, but also how good it felt to support someone else.

Then we went over the standing balancing poses and had to teach our partner each one of them. This included: Eagle, Big Toe Pose, Big Toe Pose, Side, Airplane, Dancer and Tree. Then we took turns teaching the class one of the standing poses. I did okay with the standing toe pose, side.

I Surrender!

So, I have finally decided or at least am admitting that I’ve decided. I think my mind decided a long time ago, but I’m finally surrendering to the decision. I am NOT going to run in the Akron 1/2 Marathon the end of September. Yes, I have already registered for it and paid like $75 or something like that. Yes, it is the 10th anniversary year of the race in Akron. Yes, last year I ran my first full in Akron (conquered the Blue Line!!). And yes, I know two amazing warrior friends of mine who are running the half this year. Sounds like tons of reasons to run the race, right? So why the heck am I not running?!! Glad you asked! First of all, when I registered for the race a few months ago I didn’t know if I would be admitted into the yoga teacher training program or not. So I went ahead and registered to get the discount registration fee (kinda funny now, huh!), hoped for the best and made a training schedule that would allow me to do both things. However, once I started teacher training it became clear this would be really challenging – not too much physically, but in terms of time. Well, actually, to be honest, even before teacher training I was not motivated to train. I did not do one long run – the long runs start at 5 miles and I had an excuse every time the weekend came along about why I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t the physical hard work I could’t do, it was just that my mind wasn’t committed to it. I got about three long runs behind and still thought I could catch up. Every time I walked by the refrigerator my neglected training program was there taunting me. I felt badly because I was behind and I worried about it and stewed about what to do. Friends encouraged me to keep going and just pick up at the beginning, assuring me I could still do it even I had to run/walk it instead. Ugh. That could work, I guess, but in my heart I knew I wouldn’t be happy with the outcome that plan would produce. My heart just was not into training for a race right now, but I just didn’t want to feel like I was giving up for all the reasons I mentioned before. Thinking more about it, however, I realized that what I really didn’t want to give up was the medal and the glory of the finish. I wanted the experience and the thrill of the race day with the same outcome (time) as before, but WITHOUT THE WORK!! Plus all this worry about what I wasn’t doing for my running training was sucking up energy I needed to enjoy my yoga teacher training!! I mean here was something I not only was dedicated to, but I paid money (quite a bit of it!) to do it. I want to be able to give 100% so I can fully enjoy the experience without added worry stress about running.

Of course I can relate this situation to yoga in terms of the yamas. Aparigraha or non-possessiveness is the idea that we need not to be attached to things. I think this story from my Yamas and Niyamas book sums it up pretty well:

I am fascinated by an ancient process of capturing monkeys in India. Like the breath and trapeze artist, this process gives us insights into how we stay attached to objects of life and how deadly that can become. In this process of catching monkeys, small cages with narrow bars are made and a banana is placed inside the cage. The monkeys come along, reach in between the bars, and grab the banana. Then the monkeys begin the impossible task of trying to pull the banana through the bars. And here is the amazing thing – in the moment when the monkey catchers come along, the monkeys are totally free. There is nothing keeping them from running off to safety as they hear danger approach. All they have to do is to let go of the banana. Instead, they refuse to release the banana and are easily taken into captivity.

“Bananas” for us are anything we expect to give us the same fulfillment the second and third time. When we expect our spouse to make us feel good like they did the evening before, or when we expect a dinner out to satisfy us like it did the last time, or when we expect to be appreciated like we were yesterday, indeed anytime we want the same “feel good” results, we are “holding on the banana”. Our expectations keep us captive and often are disgruntled.

So my motivation for this race is NOT like before and I’m letting go of the expectation that it has to be.

So I say no! I’m dropping my banana and I’m not running this race this time. I am giving up the medal, the shirt and the rest of the swag that I would have gotten if I would have run the race this year. No more fighting myself and the training program. I surrender and I finally feel at peace with the decision that I have been trying to make for weeks. Well, at least for tonight, that is!

Just Breathe

Tuesday, August 21
Teacher Training #5

Last night’s class started with one of my most exhilarating practices yet! I’m not sure why, but I just felt really good all over during and after the practice. Amy’s theme for the class was “patience, acceptance and love” and she wove it into the practice so nicely. I could totally relate to this theme as I am often impatient with others, but mostly myself. It relates to the practice in terms of acceptance in that we need to accept where we are right now. Not try for the perfect pose. Not practice with judgement, but just observation. One of the phrases that Amy used was we are “exploring, not performing” and I love that! I deliberately did not really look around at anyone else tonight. I just did my thing, went inward and tried to keep letting “patience, acceptance and love” guide me. It was great!

So when we started the teacher training class with doing the feeling check-in around the circle I said, “exhilarated!” This even surprised me as I got up early yesterday to meet Mary Ann to run at 7am at work so I was going literally all day. Next, we went around the circle and gave feedback about the weekend’s workshop and session using the feedback worksheet prompts: I heard…, I saw…, I feel… and I can relate to… It was interesting to hear everyone’s feedback, but everyone pretty much agreed that it was a great experience with a great teacher and a lot of great information.

Next we too turns teaching our breathing exercise to the group. The assignment was to choose a type of breath, learn about it and teach about a 3 minute exercise to the class. We alternated one person doing the breath exercise and the next person giving feedback and so on. I taught the “Lion’s Breath”. I shared why I picked it, taught the group and then we all did it together. Here are the instructions about how to do the Lion’s Breath exercise in case you want to try it at home:

Lion’s Breath relieves tension in the face by stretching the jaw and tongue. It can be done in almost any pose.
1. Come to kneel with your seat resting in your feet.
2. Place your hands on your knees.
3. Inhale through the nose.
4. Exhale through the mouth, making a “ha” sound. As you exhale, open your mouth wide and stick your tongue as far out as possible towards your chin.
5. You can also bring your drishti towards your third eye as you exhale.
6. Inhale, returning to a neutral face.
7. Repeat 3-5 times

This is what I turned in for my homework about the breath exercise:
“I picked the Lion’s Breath to teach to the class. I picked it because I had never heard of it before (at least the name of it) and thought it would be fun and different. It helps the student by relieving tension in the face by stretching the jaw and tongue. Kevin often has us do it when we have flipped our dogs and I find myself doing it at that time in other classes now too. It also seems to lighten the mood and allow the student not to be so serious!”

We learned some really cool stuff about a variety of different breath exercises. Most of the class was taken up by sharing the breathing exercises and giving feedback. Both things were cool to practice.

Next, Amy talked more about our partner project and gave us the name of our partner. I’m working with a woman named Shelly which is cool! Basically our project is that we each need to teach a 30-45 minute class (while the other one assists and the vice versa). So we will each teach a class and each assist each other’s class. We have to create a brochure to market the class and get between 5 – 35 people to attend. We can focus on an organization or a group to market towards or we can do the class as a fundraiser or whatever. The classes are free (unless we have a free will donation) at the Yoga Lounge. This sounds super fun and I now have to think about what group to target and/or what charity I would like to use.

Amy asked to talked about what we had given up to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I thought we were only supposed to do this for a week! I had given up refined sugar for the first week, but then added a bit of it back it the second week. Amy encouraged me to think of something i could give up for the entire time. Hmmm…liver?! Gotta think about that tone. Also, we are supposed to add something to create a healthy body this week. Some people said, drink more water. I had and still have a heard time with this! I drink tons of water already, work out a lot and eat pretty damn well. Not sure about this yet…

Our homework for this week, beside the giving something up and adding something is we are supposed to do the 3 minute exercise (or just listen without commenting) once every day. Here is the snippet I turned in for the 3 Minute Listening Exercise we had due this week:
“I did the listening exercise with my husband. I found the listening part to be more difficult for me than the talking part mostly because I wanted to acknowledge what he was saying by nodding my head or giving other nonverbal communication, but I refrained! I wanted it to be a conversation. He also struggled with filling 3 minutes of time with things to say whereas I had no problem at all!! It was interesting because while he picked the topic of “plans for the day” to talk about I picked a deeper, more personal topic to talk about. I know this doesn’t matter for this exercise, but I just thought it was interesting. He feels better as a listener, which was no surprise to us!”

Amy is going to start asking partners to open and close her classes on Tuesday nights. Basically they will find a poem, story or theme for the class and one of them will share during child’s pose and one person will share during shevasana. Lastly we spent some time with our partners making initial plans for our project. Should be a lot of fun!

This week’s class/activity log:
Tuesday – Power yoga class (TT)
Wednesday – Kickboxing
Thursday – 6am Power yoga; 5:15 – Foundations yoga
Friday – 6am Yoga Stretch; Run 3 miles at noon
Saturday – Handstand workshop
Sunday – 7:45 Yoga stretch, TT; Restorative class
Monday – 6am Power yoga

The Incredible Shrinking Man!

So I thought it was time to write a blog bragging about my husband. And it is not what you are thinking. It is not because he is a wonderful husband and father in all the ways that count. It is not because he can fix the air conditioner with an $8 part that would have cost us $120 with a contractor. It is not because he is so supportive of me and all of my goals. No, even though all these things are true (and there are tons more) it is not about any of those things. No, I’m blogging about my husband because I’m proud of his dedication and commitment to being more healthy!

It all began when he became very curious watching Zach at his first tae kwon do class at the end of March this year. We had gotten a free 6 week trial for Zach for his birthday. Probably about a day later Mike said, “you know, they have family memberships at Asian Sun too!” Hmmm, why yes, yes they do! Pretty soon the guy who just could not “make time” to get to the gym during lunch (working from home) was managing to make time for not only one, but two tae kwon do classes a day some days! He had finally found his niche – something physical he truly enjoyed. And bonus – he could share it with Zachary! They kept going to classes and started earning new belts. Mike even competed in his first tournament in May! He started enjoying it even more than Zach, I think! I started noticing that Mike was slimming down and getting more toned and this was confirmed by the fact that some of his shorts were becoming loser fitting on him. So he was seeing the positive results of being active and enjoying the activity at the same time.

About two weeks ago, he decided to kick it up a notch! Even though he generally eats a pretty healthy diet, I think he wasn’t quite aware about proper portions (like the rest of America!). I was pleasantly surprised when I came home from being out of town for an overnight to find that he had joined an on-line food and exercise tracking system ( , after researching a bunch of them, and started using it! It is actually a pretty cool website with an app for the phone and even a bar code scanner feature. I was so inspired by it that I decided to try it too even though I will remain faithful to Weight Watchers in my heart and attend meetings always. I’m fighting with these pesky, stubborn 10 pounds that have been hanging on ever since the WW program changed. So I figured it would not hurt to change things up a bit and see if tracking calories will help me.

So far Mike has lost a little over 5 pounds and I’m very proud of him. We now own a digital bathroom scale, a food scale (both at Mike’s request) and Mike has a detailed spreadsheet tracking his weight progress. I’m way impressed. He is keeping me honest about tracking too and it is just very cool. And this healthy mindset has transferred over to other areas too. He has tried new things that he had never done before like kickboxing class and yoga and enjoyed them, as well. So, cheers to Mr. Ramsey! Good work and keep it up. And by the way, you are dead sexy to me no matter what the scale says!!

“The leg bone’s connected to the ankle bone…”

Sunday, August 19
Teacher Training Class #4

Today was another long Sunday class, but really interesting. We essentially learned all about the bones and the major muscles that are involved in the body, particularly as it relates to yoga poses, etc. First we learned about anatomical directions and the planes of movement. We learned about the 4 different parts of the spine: cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine and sacral spine. Then we learned about the bones, specifically the various joints (articulations that allow us to move) in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle and foot. The bulk of the rest of the day was focused on muscles (create movement in joints). We learned the names and details for the muscles in the neck, the shoulder girdle, the rotator cuff, the upper arm, abdominal muscles, back muscles, the hip muscles, and finally the thigh/leg muscles. This was a of information all at once!! I have never had any sort of anatomy class so all of this information and vocabulary was new to me! I followed along pretty well and luckily we were given a cool powerpoint with lots of pictures in color!

Next, we partnered up and dissected poses to determine, (1) What is contracting? (2) What is being stretched? and (3) Is there active stabilization or resting weight on passive stability system? This was a neat exercise. We discovered that usually there is one set of muscles contracting and one set of muscles stretching. It is sort of like the yin and yang of muscles in yoga. We talked about common patterns that lead to injury dealing with the shoulders, neck and lower back. Lastly we talked about the breath and what is happening in the body during respiration. At the end of class we want around the room and everyone took turns getting up in the middle of the circle demonstrating a different pose and the rest of the class had to shout out suggestions for alignment to make the pose safer and as open as possible. I was a bit anxious about doing this, but luckily I was given an easy one: Warrior 1.

In the middle of class we took a restorative class (total relaxation) like we do every Sunday. Last Sunday I could just not relax into the class. I was annoyed and wanted to move more. But today I literally floated away on my mat. I was able to relax more deeply than ever before in any class. It was awesome. I think it was partly because I told myself beforehand that I was going to relax in the class. Plus I was able to be more comfortable during the class today. I used more props today so I managed to feel more comfortable sitting on the floor for all those hours. I set myself up for success!

Upside Down Day in the Yoga Room!

Saturday, Aug 18
Inversion Workshop, 6pm -9pm

As part of teacher training we needed to attend this workshop tonight given by a woman from Colorado. The name of this workshop was “The Art of the Handstand” which caused me a bit of anxiety as I have not really mastered (or really ever tried) headstand yet! But, I went tonight open and curious! It was a great experience. After some introductions so she could get a feel for who was in the room she guided us through about three different breathing exercises. The first one was geared to build capacity, the second was geared to build internal heat and the third one was to get in touch with the bandhas or “body locks”. Engaging these bandhas help to create more of a tightening that helps with inversions. There were three bandhas we practiced tonight: (1) Mula Bandha, contraction of the perineum (the pelvic floor – think Kegels ladies), (2) Uddiyana bandha, contraction of the abdomen into the rib cage and (3) Jalandhara Bandha, tucking the chin close to the chest. I enjoyed doing these exercises for the first time. Then we did some serious ab work – like serious!! Not crazy crunches, but abs using engaging the bandhas. Very cool and tough. We then moved into some kicking “drills” and then went to the wall. For some reason I was not really anxious about this at all. We did various drills at the wall involving kicking, just as preparation for the handstand. Folks this is tougher than those girls make it look on the Olympic gymnastic team!! Sweaty girl! We did a few exercises with a partner too and those seemed to go well. I wouldn’t say there were easy, but I was able to hold my own. Then the teacher took as through a series of standing poses that was very challenging and designed to fire up the legs so they can kick up better into handstand. It definitely worked and helped to move me closer along the path to handstand. I really liked the drill at the wall where we got into “L” pose – hands flat on the mat and elbows straight and the heels flat on the wall – legs in a 90 degree angle, our face was facing the wall. Then we had to walk our hands back the wall and into a handstand on the wall.

This is what it looks like:

I could do this and it felt really good! Once you are in this pose you move your hands closer to the wall and move your legs up.

At one point she asked us to choose to work on either handstand in the middle of the room or headstand at the wall and I chose headstand. And guess what? I totally did it! I put my hands and arms where they were supposed to be and shot right up! I also was able to lift my head off the floor so I was spreading out the pressure to mostly my arms. I was super stoked at this and tried to come away from the wall and I did that too! Of course it was only for about 10 seconds, but hey, it is a start!

Not totally what it looks like since I was at the wall for most of it, but hey here is what to strive for!

The woman who was my partner told me I looked like I had been doing it my whole life!! It was just really fun to learn something new tonight and be able to see where I can continue to grow with headstands and handstands in my practice. It was a great confidence booster!!!

My Big Fat Yoga Practice

Tues, Aug 14
Teacher Training Class #3

Tonight started with a power class just like every Tuesday. I’m still not used to these night practices since I’m usually at the 6am ones or at least morning ones – that is my preference. I realized why tonight. The whole food/meal thing is challenging for a 6:30pm class. I thought I could eat dinner at about 5:15 or 5:30 and feel digested enough for class. Not quite. I got to class feeling full and fat and that is how I began my practice. For my morning practices I have either not eaten anything or have had plenty of time to digest. So, solution: eat part of dinner well before class (maybe 5pmish?) and then bring the rest of dinner after practice and during the class. Tonight I also cried during the practice for what probably was only the second (but won’t be the last) time. We were in a surrendering pose and Amy started talking about surrendering and asking us when the last time we surrendered, saying things like “give up the fight”. That really got to me because I had been feeling doubts about whether or not I belonged in teacher training and was I good enough, thin enough, I’m too sweaty…all of those things before coming to class and some in class. So thinking about surrendering and giving up the fight with myself made me cry. I just hope I can take that realization off the mat into my week this week. Also, for a bunch of the class I kept comparing myself to another woman in teacher training who is very skilled at her physical practice. It is hard not to do that, but I know I need to stop doing that and just let my practice develop on its own. I did find out later from the woman in question that she has been practicing for 3 years so I really cannot compare myself to her – nor should I compare myself to anyone in yoga. That is just that pesky ego coming through!

In tonight’s class we finally did some sharing which I loved!! We went around the room and shared what we wrote about on the yamas and niyamas homework. It was just nice to hear more about people’s stories and get to know them each a bit better. This is what I wrote about and shared tonight:

Aparigraha (Nonpossessiveness)

I like my stuff. Even though I did not grow up as an only child I never really liked to share my stuff and for the most part that is still true of me today. I have a hard time letting go. Whether it is a wonderful or bad experience, a person in my life, or a new bestseller that I have already read, it is hard for me to let things go. I have experienced first-hand how this focus on material things can get out of control. When I first lost a substantial amount of weight a few years ago, I needed to get new clothes out of necessity. I enjoyed finding new things in smaller sizes and receiving positive feedback from wearing them on a slimmer body. At first this shopping thing was a fundamental necessity in order to have clothes to wear to work, etc, but after awhile it became more than that. It became a quest or a game to see what deals I could find since I was becoming bored with my other clothes. I felt a rush every time I would go shopping and bring home more bags to fill an already bursting closet. Even when I ran out of hangers I didn’t realize this was a problem; I just bought more hangers (true story!). Eventually I began to be stressed out at the stores, going through the motions and not enjoying the experience at all. Not to mention not needing any more clothes! Thankfully I was able to wean myself away from this unhealthy shopping habit before I had to get a second mortgage on my house or appear on an episode of Hoarders. Those are very sad situations. Truly I think that getting more involved with yoga has helped me let go of this need/habit in a major way. As the author says, “we are asked to let go of the clinging to the thing, not the enjoyment of the thing itself.” That is a very freeing idea that also relates to my second pick…

Next we talked about the three aspects of yoga: physical, mental and spiritual and we rated where we thought we were right now on a scale of 1-10 on each dimension (just for ourselves) with one being weakest and 10 being strongest. I rated myself lowest on physical (5), and highest on mental (8), with spiritual coming in at a (6). This was important just to know where we need to grow. We talked more about good teaching practices and generated a huge list to add to our binders and had good discussion about feedback.

Homework for next Tuesday:
1. Breathing technique – we need to research a breathing technique and prepare a 3 minute exercise to teach to the class. We need to write down the following about the breathing technique: what type of breathing it is, why you picked it and what it is supposed to do for the student.
2. Listening technique – we are supposed to do this exercise with a spouse, partner, etc. Listen to the person for 3 minutes without saying anything and then vice versa. Journal about the experience, what we liked better, etc.
3. Note cards! We need to write down the Integration Series, Sun Salutation A and B on notecards exactly how it is written in the Power Yoga book. Less is more is the mantra here. This is the way we need to learn the sequencing – just the basics first with no extra words. As Amy says, it is just like making a sundae – start with vanilla. Once we know and are comfortable with vanilla we can start adding toppings.

Standing Poses and Sutras

Sun, Aug 12
Teacher Training Day 2

Today was the first Sunday training day. I decided to go to the late service at church so I had to wear my yoga clothes and pack my lunch to eat on the way to training. I ended up missing most of the service since we had to be there at noon. It worked out okay today, but I was relieved to find out that we have moved all future Sunday sessions to begin at 12:30pm. That will help tremendously so we don’t have to go to the early service for the next 9 weeks!!

Today was a long day from 12noon – 6:30pm. All three teachers were there, but Charry was the main teacher for the day. Today’s class was really broken into 3 parts.

First part – we learned the standing poses. Our icebreaker for the day was to say our name and what standing pose we liked the best. I said pyramid because it is the pose of gratitude. Charry went through all of them one by one while Michelle demonstrated each pose. She referenced where each pose was described in both Light on Yoga and Yoga Anatomy. We took notes on how to teach each pose and what to watch for in terms of safety. So here are the standing poses we learned (the English translations)

Mountain Pose
Warrior I
Warrior II
Extended Side Angle
Revolved Side Angle
Revolved Triangle
Straddle Forward Bend
Air Chair
Standing Forward Bend – Toe Grasp, Gorilla, Forward Fold

Besides just learning the poses and how to teach them Charry also emphasized the important elements of teaching a class:
1. Teach students, not poses!! This is the umbrella under everything else.
2. You can just teach what you know. You can’t teach what you don’t know.
3. Safety is number one – need to look for proper alignment in order to prevent injury. We should start with the feet and check where they are facing, then the knees, the hips, the belly button, the shoulders, the head and then the neck
4. Look at the group – choose one teaching point to focus on (hips, tailbone, etc)
5. Come up with a general theme to use throughout the class (e.g. a poem, a word). But, don’t force it – if you don’t have a theme for that day, that is okay.
6. Name the pose and then go through the instructions to get there.

Second part: Then we got paired up with another student and had 15 minutes each to teach the other as many standing poses as we could. I was paired up with Carl and we had a good time. I noticed a couple things – I was sweating just talking and that I tended to do the poses while I was teaching them, just naturally. I think that is a true sign of a beginner as I don’t have the language down yet!

After a short break we all took Charry’s restorative class. This class is 60 minutes and involves poses using lots of props (a bolster, a blanket, two blocks and a strap). It consists of various poses using the props with eyes closed in each pose. Each pose is held for 5-20 minutes each so one class may only consist of like 5 or 6 poses total. There are few instructions given, mostly about breathing. It is relaxing and meditative, but challenging for me in that I get antsy and impatient to move on to the next thing during the real lengthy poses. Like I said to the class, “I’m a work in progress!” But I’m reminded by a mantra that Barrie said on Saturday, how we do one thing is how we do everything and that is so true for me. The impatience is always right there.

Third part: We started learning about the yoga sutras tonight – getting into the philosophy of yoga. In our sutra book we went through the first 5 or so and did some journaling exercises along the way to demonstrate them. I’m still not extremely clear the sturas and how they differ from the yamas and niyamas, but I’ll have to study that more closely. We closed out the class by sharing something we learned from the class. I shared about how the restorative class was challenging for me.

1. Keep practicing at the Lounge. We need to get between 3-5 classes in a week (in addition to the 2 per week we do in teacher training). I have not had a problem with this at all yet!
2. Develop an at home practice and start and end each practice with 3 Om’s at the start and end of your home practice.
3. Read page 42 – 46 of the Sutras book.

Weekly Class/Activity Log

Tues – TT Power class
Wed – Ran at lunch
Thurs – Power class @6am; Power class@6am (JCU)
Fri – Stretch class @6am
Sat – Foundations class@3pm
Sun – TT Restorative class
Mon – Power class@6am